My mom shared this photo the other day and I couldn't help but grin when I saw it. This picture is worth way more than a million words, memories, and emotions for me. As I wandered deeper and deeper into the happy places of my heart while looking at this photo I wanted to share some of them with you.
This picture was taken in one of the happiest times of my life. When I think about this season, the memories are tinged with the golden light that always shone inside my bedroom window as the sun set. It's taken outside of our front door of 2108 West Bremer Avenue in Waverly, Iowa. The front door that effectively held the rebirth of joy, freedom, laughter, and light inside and the darkness we had fled out. It opened to a home, not a house. A home full of gifted furniture from family, cozy thrift store finds, and color. Oh, the color that filled our home! The cinder block walls of the living room welcomed you in with a cheery, Tiffany blue smile. We had a bright orange Adirondack chair in the corner and all different sized pillows Mom crafted out of tropical floral fabric and bright stripes. An old trunk served as a coffee table, and mismatched lamps on tiny end tables gave the room a soft, warm glow. Black and white prints of us hung on the wall by the base of the stairs. Keep walking and you'd pass a tiny bathroom with every rubber duck ever made, and into a bright yellow kitchen with a bright yellow 50's style table and classic Coca-Cola prints hanging from a clothes line on the wall. I remember my mom telling us she always wanted a yellow kitchen because the kitchen was the heart of the home, and ours was going to be a happy heart. From the kitchen we walked downstairs to a rose colored basement. We hung sharpies all over the walls and our friends would cover the space with drawings, quotes, and their signatures. On the landing going up the stairs to our bedrooms stood a Charlie Brown tree that stayed lit and decorated year round. We had tiny, hand made mittens and ice skates with paper clip blades for Christmas, Easter Eggs in the Spring and lights that we turned on every night. Our rooms were tiny, but sealed with safety. Our beds were covered with the comforters my grandma got us when we had none, reminding us of how strong a family our matriarch had raised. Lots of pink and green for my sister, light blue and green for me, and red for mom.
I remember all our close friends from church and school and their families coming together to help us move in and fill our home. I adore that a labor of love was the first action that took place there. I remember our youth pastor calling everyone into the empty living room, bringing together my school friends with my church family in prayer, turning the space from a cold empty apartment into a warm, blessed place. I remember the laughter that rang to the streets as we celebrated finally finding our sense of stability and safety again. I remember loving every second of that day and bringing friends home and giving them the tour with pride in the life we had created for ourselves.
Living in that little, brightly colored home will forever be my favorite time in my history. I remember taking that photo and my mom telling my sister to "get in here and act like she liked us." I remember seeing her roll her eyes but not able to stop her smile and laugh as she took a hold of my arm and made our family picture complete. I remember riding with my sister down to the library every weekend and choosing the movies we were going to watch together. She picked three, I picked two, and then she picked two more and I put mine back. She always chose the best movies. We'd come home and she and mom would curl up on the couch and I'd grab my favorite pillow and blanket on the floor and we'd spend the evening laughing together. Just the three of us, happy to just be there.
I cried like a baby the day we moved. I remember walking from room to room one last time, and thinking of everything those freshly painted white walls had seen come to life in us. I desperately wanted to freeze time in that home and live there forever, just the three of us. But life was marching on as it faithfully does. I hope whoever lives there now is as blessed as we were. I hope the walls holding their lives are as brightly colored as ours were, and whisper the words of love we said into their hearts. I hope they know how blessed that space is, how happy they can be there.
I thank God often for 2108 West Bremer Avenue. Because sometimes He gives you time, sometimes He gives you hope. But sometimes He gives you time in an oasis of hope, and paints the many colors of redemption over the scars on your heart.